Mosquito larvae vs. Bloodworms - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 12 Old 12-17-2012, 12:47 AM Thread Starter
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Mosquito larvae vs. Bloodworms

Mosquito larvae are considered a high-quality staple food for
insectivores. Yet bloodworms, which are midge larvae, are
considered as a low-nourishment occasional treat.

Why is that?

San Francisco Bay Frozen White Mosquito Larvae (glassworms)
Crude Protein Min 5.40%
Crude Fat Min 1.10%
Crude Fiber Max 1.00%
Moisture Max 93.00%
Dry Protein 77%

San Francisco Bay Frozen Bloodworms
Crude Protein Min 4.50%
Crude Fat Min 0.20%
Crude Fiber Max 0.70%
Moisture Max 95.00%
Dry Protein 90.00%

My freeze-dried Bloodworms
Protein 48%
Fat 2%
Fiber 6%
Moisture 6%

And, just for reference:
Omega One pellets
Crude Protein Min 42%
Crude Fat Min 11%
Crude Fiber 2%
Moisture Max 8.5%
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post #2 of 12 Old 12-17-2012, 07:44 AM
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There is more to nutrition than protein, fat, and fiber. They don't have "Nutrition Facts" for fish as they numbers would be different for each species, but it's going to be similar to that of humans with various minerals, metals, and vitamins needed for healthy life.

With dry foods (flakes and pellets) people usually compare by the ingrediant list rather than the information you listed. People look for the use of whole fish being first, and binders like grains being as low as possible. They'll all have roughly the same crude protein, but those made of more (and better) meats and specific plant mater (like kelp) are more healthy than those that are mostly grains (which fish don't normally eat).
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post #3 of 12 Old 12-17-2012, 08:04 AM
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Where they are gathered from,and how they are processed, is an issue for some.
Often found, and gathered from stagnant water's or pool's perhap's rich in raw sewage.
Fear's whether confirmed or not, that processing procedure may not eliminate that which is unwanted in the aquarium/fish, lead some to avoid them altogether.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #4 of 12 Old 12-17-2012, 05:45 PM
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That is true. But it seems the actual food is something of an issue, due to the high protein and fat. Someone I was reading last week, may have been Neale Monks, advised against bloodworms as a regular food due to inappropriately high level of protein which can cause intestinal problems in fish. And I know Jack Wattley has often written that he no longer feeds bloodworms at all to his discus for this reason.

I note that the frozen bloodworms you list have 90% dry protein. I'm not sure exactly what "dry" is by comparison to the 4.5% "crude" protein but this does seem excessive and unhealthy if used on a regular basis.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #5 of 12 Old 12-17-2012, 07:24 PM
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Insofar as the protein percentages shown are concerned, the biggest difference is in frozen versus freeze dried. The frozen will have much more moisture than the freeze dried. So it's pretty much a matter of dilution.

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post #6 of 12 Old 12-18-2012, 06:03 AM Thread Starter
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Perhaps I incorrectly inferred that mosquito larvae are a recommended food. I only know what I read here.

I understand that pellets have added nutrients, vitamins and minerals. But also high protein and fat compared to frozen larvae. It would appear that insectivores would get less total protein and fat from larvae.

Even the best pellets include some sort of carbohydrate and/or gluten product which enables the manufacturer to "bake" the slurry into a pellet form. I'm sure fish don't get carbohydrates and gluten in the wild. How do insectivores get those added nutrients in the wild?

And why would pellets, whose main ingredients are fish (by)products, be preferred over insect larvae for insectivores?

Is Allan Repashy's carnivore fish-food a better deal? It has less filler than anything else of which I'm aware, but rather high protein, which I'm now told is not such a good thing.

INGREDIENTS: Whole Sardine Meal, Whole Squid Meal, Whole Krill Meal, Pea Protein Isolate, Dried Brewers Yeast, Carrageenan Algae, Konjac, Carob Bean Gum, Dried Kelp, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Propionate, Dicalcium Phosphate,Taurine, Spirulina Algae, Phaffia Rhodozyma Yeast, Paprika Extract, Calendula Flower Powder, Marigold Flower Extract, Rose Hips Powder, Turmeric Root Powder, Malic Acid, Sodium Chloride, Canthaxanthin, Potassium Sorbate, Magnesium Gluconate, Lecithin, Rosemary Extract and Mixed Tocopherols (as preservatives), Vitamins (Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D Supplement, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Beta Carotene, Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B-12 Supplement).

Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein min. 55%, Crude Fat min. 7%, Crude Fat Min 6% Max 8%, Crude Fiber max. 6%, Moisture max. 8%, Ash max. 9%, Calcium min. 1.5%, Calcium max. 2.5%, Phosphorus min. 0.75%.
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post #7 of 12 Old 12-18-2012, 07:07 AM
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As far as I know, there are not many insectivore fish. Almost all fish will eat insects, but for most this is not their sole source of food. The only ones I know of are African Butterfly Fish and Needlefish.

Regardless, insects eat themselves so whatever is left in their gut the fish will get too. For example, that's why brine shrimp are often sold as Spirulina Brine Shrimp, they are gut loaded with Spirulina (read more: Spirulina (dietary supplement) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) If you have fish that will only eat insects, a varied diet may be best to ensure they are getting everything they need.
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post #8 of 12 Old 12-18-2012, 10:31 AM
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I used to choose my prepared foods (flake, sinking, etc) based on the highest protein %, then I learned (on this forum I believe) that this was not good. Fish do not need so much protein. And more recently I have been discovering that knowledgeable sources are saying that prepared foods are generally self-sufficient. I mentioned Jack Watgtley previously; he probably knows more about discus than anyone alive, and he now holds that discus can be kept in the best health with just prepared foods if the correct ones are selected. He also has a formula for making his own "paste."

Mosquito larvae is an excellent food source, if you can get it. It is easy to culture in summer, though you have to ensure the fish eat them before they start hatching.

Some species need the stimulus of live food to spawn. And a very few species need live food period. But for the vast majority, prepared foods are very healthy.

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Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #9 of 12 Old 12-18-2012, 06:43 PM
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There is just so much info to analyze! It's impossible to look at "fish" and be able to say what is good and what is not. Fish are as varied as any other group of animals on the planet in their dietary needs. It's much easier to pick a fish species and figure out what that fish species needs.

Though most say "a diet of [blood/black/...] worms is improper to a fish, looking at a majority of the mormyrid family this is all these fish will consume in aquaria (as babies). All our rules will have exceptions, the classic community food is trying to cover a large amount of bases, but will generally reflect the needs of omnivorous fish.

For example, large (predatory fish) are regarded by hobbyists as requiring a diet of minimum 45% protein, 3-6% fat, and 2-4% fiber for optimal health. This is quite different from what a general community mix offers. This is why we are seeing more and more "specialist" diets (eg Hikari Massivore) as the fat content in regular food is too high..

Few true herbivores exist in the fish world (I believe more are saltwater) but I am sure they have their own set of needs..

A proper analysis of any food needs more in depth study than merely what you are seeing here.. One of the bonuses of creating a home made meal plan for the fish is that you have much better control over the numbers they are getting.. I do not know for betta splendens, if as insectivores they need high protein low fat or not.

If you are feeding fish with a live food/frozen diet, I would highly recommend purchasing a supplement such as Vita-Chem (which fish do absorb through the water).

As for the worm question, when I think of a bloodworm I think of a worm with a high water content inside it. If you've ever crushed one you would know they are little shells full of liquid basically. Mosquito larvae don't seem to have as much water inside it, which probably doesn't bloat up a fish as fast. (I do think the moisture listed on those cubes is for the whole cube which does have water around it)...
I do believe the conditions the bugs are raised in is reason enough to choose mosquito as the better, but I know you are more concerned about betta splendens, where everyone idolizes mosquito and hates bloodworms.

And just for fun, have a look at a classic goldfish meal developed by a very knowledgeable goldfish enthusiast.. This sort of thing is nice too look at because you can see how much protein came from the fish vs the plant matter. As goldfish are omnivores, the protein level of "63%" seems a little shocking before splitting plant/animal protein..

Goldfish and Aquarium Board Gel Food Recipe
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taking a break from fish-keeping.
3 lovely male betta still keep me company.
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post #10 of 12 Old 12-18-2012, 07:03 PM
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I used to go by the highest protein percentage also. Of course, back in the day, most of the prepared food either looked like crumbled crackers or big square communion hosts. When TetraMin hit the seen, it was the way to go.
Now, I rarely give my fish frozen or freeze dried whole food products. The fish gobble up the staple flake and pellet food and it is so well balanced. In the old days, you felt like you really should supplement with live food for nutritional balance. Live food still has it's place as a natural treat and, as Byron said, it can stimulate spawning. We used to think that the live food "conditioned" the fish for spawning.

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